Since the Whole Life Challenge is coming up fast, I thought I’d write a post about canned goods and items I frequently keep in the pantry. Of course, with things like vegetables, you want to buy fresh when possible, but there are inevitably items that you are going to purchase canned, I’ll also touch on fat sources (which are usually in a jar not a can). All I can say is – READ LABELS! You can’t even trust a particular brand, since ingredients may differ from product to product. If you find one thing that is compliant, don’t assume that all related items are also compliant. For example, legumes are allowed on the challenge. Here is a picture of 3 cans of various beans. Two are 365 (Whole Foods) and one is Stop and Shop. All 3 are compliant to the WLC, as the only ingredients are the beans, water, and maybe sea salt.
Awesome. Now here is a can of Dark Red Kidney Beans – Also Stop and Shop brand. Very NOT compliant. It contains a bunch of forbidden ingredients, including sugar, calcium chloride, and Disodium EDTA! WHY…..why does it need that? The others just needed water…..I don’t get it!
Anyway, Here is a list of products I use all the time, that should be pretty easy for you to find, so stock up!
1. Coconut Milk: Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk
I use this A LOT. You can use it for anything, from gravies to curries, smoothies to sauces. This stuff is really versatile. It is one of the few brands I’ve seen (without buying online) that does not include guar gum. It’s also really yummy, and I haven’t had any issues with it being a little thinner than traditional full fat coconut milk when using it in recipes. I wouldn’t mind finding a full fat coconut milk, but in a pinch, and in most curries and smoothies, this works just fine. It’s affordable too at only $0.99 a can!
Ingredients: Coconut Milk, Water
2. Cento Brand Crushed Tomatoes
This is great for sauces and stews. I get the large 28 oz cans. You have to be careful though, most of Cento’s other products contain Citric Acid.
Ingredients: Fresh Vine Ripened Tomatoes
3. Wild Planet Sardines in Water
Now I know this nutritious little fish is not for everyone, but you should really learn to embrace this potent little swimmer. They are packed with good protein, calcium (eat the bones and all… really they’re good!), and omega 3’s. I’ve always just eaten them straight from the can, but throw them on a salad, or cook them into a sauce if you want to mask the flavor a bit. I stay away from “Natural Smoke Flavors”, and while you can find quite a few cheaper WLC compliant brands, I find Wild Planet Sardines the most enjoyable. Some of the cheaper ones have grainy roe in their stomachs, and off flavors. Most of the really cheap ones have additives, and are just really poor quality. More expensive Brislings are always safe flavor wise, and might be better for newbies as they are smaller and easier to eat, but read labels. Wild Planet Sardines are sustainably produced and look and taste fresher than any sardine I’ve tried in the past. They are kind of mid range in price, and can usually be found under $3 a can.
Ingredients: Sardines, Water, Sea Salt
4. Trader Joe’s Pitted Green Olives
These are awesome. They don’t contain citric acid, or sulfites, or any of the colorings and nasties that are in most canned olives. I love chopping them up for recipes, or adding them to salads. Just for your information, if you are put off by variances in color, you may be alarmed. I have never found a can without flaws, as there are always spots, or discolorations between the olives. I just take it as a sign that they are not hiding the fact that fruits, vegetables, and seeds are hardly ever perfectly uniform. They always taste good, and so I embrace it!
Ingredients: Green Olives, Water, Sea Salt
5. Purity Farms Ghee
Ok, so let’s talk Ghee. I discovered it when I ran out of Duck Fat. I was skeptical, because it’s made from butter/dairy, but this brand which is Organic and GMO Free, is Lactose (The protein found in milk) and Casein (The protein found in cheese) free. Because of this, it doesn’t seem to bother my stomach (While butter, milk, and cheese will), though I still try to limit its use. I use it as a backup, in case I run out of other fats. Unfortunately, because I do have a problem with dairy products, I’ve noticed that if I have ghee a few days in a row, my sinuses start acting up, which is annoying because it’s tasty, but for many of you it won’t cause problems. For myself, I’m going to stick with Duck Fat and Tallow, but my love affair with ghee was nice while it lasted. I found it in Wild By Nature, but you should be able to find it in most natural food stores (or online). It has a really nice, rich, buttery flavor, and is better for cooking as it doesn’t burn like butter does. Sometimes, you don’t want to use coconut oil, and in those cases you should use this ghee (or get yourself some FatWorks!)
Ingredients: Clarified Butter
6. Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil
As you can tell by the picture, I go through a lot of this. I think it’s $5.99 which isn’t too bad. I haven’t really tried any other brands, but I am happy with Trader Joe’s product so far, and always have a jar (or two!) in the pantry. The flavor is nice, and it behaves beautifully when cooking. Sometimes I blend it into my coffee….yum.
Ingredients: 100% Organic Coconut Oil
7. Trader Joe’s Spanish Olive Oil
You can find a lot of information about what to look for in an olive oil. I don’t know how this stacks up against some of the more expensive brands (I think I pay around $8), but it has a fantastic flavor, and is perfect on salads, marinades, and drizzled over food for flavor. I keep it in the pantry, so it’s stored away from light, and I don’t cook with it, so for what I do use Olive Oil for, this is a really good option.
Ingredients: Olive Oil
8. FatWorks Duck Fat
I am completely I FatWorks fan girl, I admit. I just ordered another jar of this stuff, since I’ve been out of it for a couple of weeks (*Sobbing*). I ALSO ordered the Tallow (which is rendered beef fat) so I’m sure that will end up on this list as well. Like I said, I had my brief love affair with ghee, even though it was mean to me (aka sinus inflammation), but my true love lies here, with this glorious golden goodness (hows THAT for alliteration!). Now, you can buy duck fat elsewhere (my mom proudly showed me her shiny SMALL jar of Duck fat she got off amazon, for practically the same price as this nice big FatWorks jar), but WHY on earth would you do that! FatWorks is quality, and most importantly, it comes from pastured ducks. So really, what are you waiting for! There is a permanent link to the FatWorks website on the left side of my blog. I love them THAT much.